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Ukraine's Maritime Drones for Delivering Mines Pose Threat to russian Fleet in Sevastopol

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Ukrainian kamikaze boats / Foto credit: Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
Ukrainian kamikaze boats / Foto credit: Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

The use of the sea drones highlights a path forward for Ukraine in its fight with russia. The idea is to supplement weaponry provided by partners with armaments produced domestically by Ukraine, including innovative systems like the sea drone fleet

Ukraine's defense industry has currently developed several versions of maritime drones based on the well-known Magura V5 model. If previously only the kamikaze boat was known, now there is also a variant of a maritime drone for remote mine deployment and a patrol platform for performing reconnaissance tasks.

Earlier, we reported that Ukrainian operators of maritime drones conducted "several dozen" operations using such weapons. It pushed the russian fleet away from the shores of Ukraine at a distance of over 200 nautical miles.

Read more: Ukrainian Drone Commander, Callsign 13: We Will Not Rest Until the Black Sea Is Free Again

The New York Times publication features photographs of the basic version of Magura V5.

Ukrainian kamikaze boats, Defense Express
Ukrainian kamikaze boats / Foto credit: Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times

By the publication's report, exploding sea drones, a new class of naval weapons, were first deployed in combat in defending against russia’s assault on Ukraine. Kyiv operates two manufacturing programs, one under the military intelligence agency, with the other run by the domestic intelligence agency.

In early December 2023, the Russian Defense Ministry's specialized publication "Morskoy Sbornik" reported that on October 14 of this year, russian minesweeping ships were clearing out the Black Sea waters near Sevastopol from the naval mines allegedly laid by Ukrainian naval drones.

Ukraine lacks "conventional" means to deploy sea mines at such a distance from its own bases. Therefore, "unconventional" methods could have been employed here. And naval drones are a quite logical option.

The russians relocated their most valuable ships to Novorossiysk, Defense Express
The russians relocated their most valuable ships to Novorossiysk, December 17 / Foto credit: MT_Anderson

russia began withdrawing its ships from the temporarily occupied Sevastopol as early as October this year, when almost all the carriers of Calibers were relocating to Novorossiysk. However, it is quite likely that the potential threat of remote mine placements by the Ukrainian side may influence the occupiers not to risk keeping any valuable ships in Sevastopol.

Per the publication, In the year since they set sail in the Black Sea, the drones have damaged and sunk dozens of russian ships, according to the Ukrainian Navy, and played a role, alongside missiles, in forcing russia to relocate vessels from Sevastopol harbor.

The drones helped clear a shipping channel for the export of grain, a critical commodity for Ukraine’s economy. And they pushed russian missile carriers to launch farther from Ukrainian shores, giving more warning of strikes to air defense forces. Ukraine does not disclose the size of its drone fleet.

At the same time, it is worth noting that approximately a week ago, russia showcased the Oduvanchik kamikaze boat carrying 600 kg of TNT within a range of 200 km.

The Oduvanchik kamikaze boat, Defense Express
The Oduvanchik kamikaze boat / Open source photo
Read more: ​The russian Occupiers Flee Crimea, Redeploying Their Ships to Novorossiysk